Tears flowed down her cheeks as she stood on the quay, waving at my disappearing boat. I waved back and blew her a kiss. They say that parting is such sweet sorrow, but I think it is just plain sorrow. Good-bye my own Greek goddess. I will be back. Soon.
Eight weeks on an archeological dig on the island of Crete to complete my thesis seemed an ideal way to spend the summer. Far from the madding crowd of home. Far from the months of studying in libraries; the endless rain and the persistent pressure of my Professor.
I had seen the dig advertised in a University newsletter and applied immediately. My previous student experience of working on historic sites in the UK plus the topic of my thesis ensured I was accepted for the trip. All I needed was my trusty trowel, my laptop, a hat and some sunscreen.
The campsite at the remains of an old temple was quite luxurious, or at least better than some I had experienced. A tent with a comfortable bed; tasty food prepared by local staff; even a shower and toilet block; what more could a struggling student need? My days were filled with digging and scraping, cataloguing, recording, hypothesizing and discussing findings with the Head of the Archeology Team. I felt a successful thesis was within my grasp.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, or so the old saying goes. There was a time to work and a time to relax. Some of the team invited me to join them at a local tavern one Friday night. There would be food, wine, ouzo, a little plate smashing and, of course, some Greek dancing. How could I refuse? My inner Zorba was yearning to be released.
As the dancing started I was dragged into the circle of merrymakers and I found myself trying to coordinate my feet and arms in time with the music. I felt an arm go around my waist. I looked where the arm was connected and saw a vision. A pair of startling blue eyes inviting me to drown in them. And a smile as bright as the midday sunshine. Pearly white teeth. Golden hair. Aphrodite.
I couldn’t stop staring and my body just moved on its own as the music continued. I had no idea what I was doing or what was happening. Then the music stopped and I was looking straight into the face of this goddess. Her arms were still around my waist and mine around hers. Her lips invited me to kiss them and I responded. To my amazement she didn’t resist. Instead, she took my hand and led me to a quiet corner of the room where we sat. There was a bottle of wine and glasses on the table so we helped ourselves.
She told me her name was Arianna, that she was the same age as me and that she worked with her brother running a boat rental store and diving school. I recounted my tales of digging in the dirt and that, once I had completed my Masters Degree I would be free to explore the world. She seemed interested in me and I was enraptured by her. I was amazed when she agreed that we could meet again and she suggested a quieter restaurant for the following evening where we could get to know each other better.
All day Saturday I floated around the campsite, tidying up the week’s findings’ cataloguing the details and preparing for the next week’s tasks. But I couldn’t get the vision of that goddess, Arianna, out of my head, even if I wanted to, which I didn’t. Her beauty had captivated me and her voice, with it’s slightly accented but perfect English, had enchanted me. I was smitten.
I showered and dressed in what I thought was my most presentable clothes. It is important to make a good first impression or, in this case, a second impression. We had already made an impression on each other’s lips and imaginations. Now it was important to know if that feeling was more than fleeting.
Seeing her again made my heart race. She wore a pale lemon dress with thin tie straps over her bare shoulders, which really emphasized her golden, flowing hair. And those eyes. Those bright blue magnets. We kissed hello and were shown to our table. It is amazing how much information you can exchange over dinner and how quickly five hours can disappear when you are with someone you really like. At midnight we were asked to leave. But I didn’t want to let her go. I knew I had found my soul mate.
We sat on a wall overlooking the beach watching the moonlight playing on the waves. It was the most romantic moment I had ever encountered. She must have felt the same because she could not stop kissing me.
“Let’s go for a swim,” she said.
I told her that I did not have a costume.
“There is a quiet secluded bay just round the corner. Nobody will see us there. We can go skinny dipping.”
My mouth fell open as she pulled me to my feet and led me over the sand, round a huge rock to a sandy cove completely hidden from view. She pulled her dress over her head and took off her underwear. “Race you to the water.”
I shook off my clothes and ran after her. The sea was surprisingly warm and it felt exhilarating. We splashed each other, raced each other and wrestled in the water. Somehow, it felt very natural to be in the sea, naked with a gorgeous girl whom I had only met 24 hours earlier.
We stood waist deep in the surf and kissed. Then she grasped my hand, turned and said, “Come with me. It’s time”. I didn’t have a choice and I was glad. She led me back to where we had dropped our clothes then lay down. “Make love to me.” How could I resist?
It was only a couple of weeks before I had to return home. My days were filled with more explorations of the old temple and completing my research documentation. Most evenings and the remaining weekend Arianna and I would tour different parts of the island, eat and drink at a variety of tavernas and return to her apartment to relax and make love. Never have I felt more comfortable with another person, never have I felt more alive and ready for a future. A future not just filled with ruins, excavations and computerized records. Now I felt like most normal human beings not just like an archaeology student.
Those last two weeks went by so fast. Too fast. As my boat pulled away from the quay my heart was breaking. I knew I had to come back. Soon. As soon as my thesis was completed and I had earned my Masters Degree.
We had written to each other, texted, face-timed and emailed. And now, as a new MSc, it was time for me to return to Crete. To go back and be with my Arianna. My goddess. My Aphrodite. And my son.